Monday, January 25, 2010


Briggs' Plan was a military plan devised by British General Sir Harold Briggs shortly after his appointment in 1950 as Director of Operations in the anti-communist war in Malaya. The plan aimed to defeat the Malayan communists, who were operating out of rural areas as a guerrilla army, primarily by cutting them off from their sources of support amongst the population. To this end, a massive program of forced resettlement of Malayan peasantry was undertaken, under which about 500,000 people (roughly ten percent of Malaya's population) were eventually removed from the land and interned in guarded camps called "New Villages".

British authority in Malaya's rural areas had only been tenuously reestablished following the withdrawal of Japan at the end of World War II. The British regarded a group of about 500,000 "squatters", largely of Chinese descent, who practiced small-scale agriculture, generally lacked legal title to their land, and were largely outside the reach of the colonial administration, as particularly problematic. They formed the backbone of the communist guerrilla support: some were genuinely sympathetic to communism; others, considering the weak British presence, communist self-help activism, and the leading role that the communists had played in the anti-Japanese resistance during World War II, regarded the Malayan Communist Party as a legitimate authority, and were not hard to prevail upon for contributions; still others were definitely threatened by the guerrillas into giving support. By isolating this population in the "new villages", the British were able to stem the critical flow of material, information, and recruits from peasants to guerillas. The new settlements were guarded around-the-clock by police and were partially fortified. This served the twofold purpose of preventing those who were so inclined from getting out and voluntarily aiding the guerrilla, and of preventing the guerrilla from getting in and extracting help via persuasion or intimidation. The British also tried to win the hearts of some of the internees by providing them with education, health services and homes with water and electricity.

450 new settlements were created in this process and it is estimated that 470,509 people - 400,000 Chinese - were involved in the program. The Malaysian Chinese Association, then the Malayan Chinese Association, played a crucial role in implementing the program.[citation needed]

Forcibly removing a population that might be sympathetic to guerrillas was a counter-insurgency technique which the British had used before, notably against the Boer Commandos in the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

Upon completion of the program, the British initiated the Hunger Drive in an effort to flush out the communists from the jungle.

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